φῐλία, ἡ, friendly love, affection, friendship
"A dream that made Mr. Spock and I brothers"
–"Whom Gods Destroy"

The face framed by those garish orange pillows was so pale it was frightening. It was always hard for Jim to watch Spock when he was ill or injured, because Spock's face would never show even a hint of the reddish hue that all healthy human faces had. But he was relieved by several things. First, Spock was lying back for the first time in a week. His lungs were finally cleared enough so that he could have what Jim considered a proper rest — because he didn't care what Spock said: sleeping sitting up was not comfortable. Second, Spock's breathing was slow and nearly silent — his rapid wheezing had frightened Jim nearly to death. And finally, he did think Spock looked more normally green, though he really couldn't say for sure. He tucked the three blankets more closely around Spock's chin. He had been amazed over the past week by how cold the Vulcan seemed, even with the room's temperature being set in the high nineties Fahrenheit. Jim himself couldn't stay in the room if he were wearing the long sleeved command gold, so he had taken to borrowing Bones's scrubs when he sat up with Spock. He noticed that one of Spock's hands had slipped over the side of the bed, and instead of replacing it beneath the covers, he held it.

He cursed himself again as he looked at Spock's face. He should have paid more attention to how hard Spock was working. He had thought he could tell when Spock was lying to him — when Spock was only pretending that he had the extra Vulcan energy necessary to go on without rest. Obviously he had thought wrong, and as a result he spent almost all week thinking he'd killed the man who was more than a brother to him — closer to him than any other being had ever come. He almost teared up at the thought. But it was over, and there was no logical reason to cry. Besides, Spock was waking up, and it would never do for him to see that.

"How are you doing, Spock?"

Spock blinked a few times, and looked like he was getting his bearings. "Jim?"

"Can I get you anything? Are you warm enough? There are more blankets. Does your head hurt? Bones left me with a hypo. He said it might . . ."

"Jim!" Spock raised an eyebrow, and somehow managed to inject superciliousness into that one hoarse syllable.

"Hmm?"

"The temperature is acceptable, and my head does not hurt. I would . . . I would not, however, be averse to a glass of water."

"Of course." Jim walked over to where a nurse had left a pitcher of water and some cups. He poured one for Spock. Spock's voice actually sounded pretty good for someone who could hardly breathe two days ago — not to mention the fact that he had enough energy to revert back to the ridiculous formality of phraseology that he had abandoned in favor of concision when he was unable to draw enough breath to allow for his normal patterns of speech (and it was catching! Maybe he had started compensating for the loss of Spock-speak by reconstructing it in his mind?)

Jim helped Spock sit up, and rearranged the pillows behind his back, and resisted the urge to hold the cup to Spock's lips himself.

"You probably shouldn't talk much, Spock. Well, you definitely shouldn't. Bones said something about extra days in sick bay if you weren't quiet . . . But would you like me to read to you? That might help you pass the time. Or maybe you'd rather just go back to sleep?"

Spock seemed to consider for a moment. "Chess?"

"Sure! I'll get the set from my cabin. I'll be back in no more than five minutes. I promise!" Jim left sickbay and jogged back to his quarters. It was the middle of gamma shift, so there weren't too many people roaming the halls, or using the turbolift. He swept the chess pieces off of the board into a cloth bag he had for them, and then picked up the bulky 3D chess set. When he got back, Spock quirked an eyebrow again.

"Five minutes and forty-three seconds, captain."

Jim laughed. That was his Spock, shining through the hoarseness and extra-paleness!

"Do you want to move the pieces yourself, or do you want me to move them as you tell me to?"

Spock seemed to be considering the pros and cons of each option. Jim had to admit to himself that while Spock did not enjoy being in sickbay, and needled Bones as much as possible when he was confined there, when the rubber met the road (An expression he hadn't tried on Spock yet!) he was usually very reasonable about his own strengths and weaknesses. A benefit of being logical, Jim supposed.

"I think…hem!…I think it would be easiest if I told you where to move the pieces." He started coughing again. Jim jumped up and got another cup of water for him.

"Too bad you can't telepathically move the pieces, eh Spock?"

"Captain that would be tele—" he coughed slightly, "telekinetic, not telepathic."

Jim laughed again. "You've lost your voice and you still can't help correcting me! Well, I guess I deserve it. I shouldn't have made that mistake."

"No indeed, captain, as it is . . ."

"Spock. I do not want you wasting breath on an explanation. If it will make you happier, I'll be a good student and look it up in the Vulcanian Historical Dictionary of Standard as soon as you go back to sleep."

As the chess game progressed, Spock's voice got a little weaker, and he coughed a few times. Jim was careful to help him, but he knew that to stop now would only frustrate his friend. He was glad when Spock made a foolish move that exposed his king, and Jim was able to checkmate him. He knew Spock had done it on purpose because he needed to sleep. And he knew that Spock knew he wasn't pulling the wool over his eyes. But neither would say as much out loud.

"Here Spock. I'll leave the chessboard here — that way I won't have to lug it back in after my shift tomorrow. I'll stop by during my lunch hour, and we'll plan to play chess tomorrow evening?"

"Yes, Captain."

"Bones said he thought you'd be out and about in two days at the most, so no worries there. I won't let you onto a normal shift for at least four days." Here Spock's eyebrows seemed to indicate alarm, so Jim added, "but you'll be able to check in on the science labs and such."

Spock looked relieved.

"Well . . . I guess I'll leave you to sleep. Are you comfortable?"

"Yes," Spock whispered sleepily.

Jim watched him for a few more moments. Then he looked up to the monitor above the bed. He really wished he could identify Vulcan normal. But, come to think of it, he didn't know how to read the monitors for humans either… He'd just have to check with Bones.

"Lights, ten percent." And with a final fond smile at his sleeping friend, he walked out of the darkened room.